Technology isn’t going to solve all our problems, just ask Johnny Depp

A couple of weeks ago I watched Johnny Depp’s new movie Transcendence – spoiler alert: it’s a love story (kind of) – and found the issues the movie touched on quite intriguing. A lot of it focused on people’s reliance on technology and how it was suppose to give us all the answers to life. The premise in the movie was that there were two opposing perspectives on technology: one was to give ourselves completely to technology and artificial intelligence (AI), while the other was on balancing human vs. machine decision-making where we/humans are in the ones in control. Well, all hell breaks loose when Depp’s consciousness gets uploaded into an AI… just watch thetrailer below to see what happens.

The topic of humans vs. machines has always been around (remember 1984’s Terminator?). It’s just that now, it’s actually happening with more and more technology infiltrating our lives. I don’t have to go very far to think about how often I jumped to attention when getting a Facebook, Gmail, or Twitter notification on my phone – isn’t the beep from our phones kind of like a master calling his dog?

Nice to see that life can still be entertaining (and distracts us from our phones) like this drummer asking people to play with him.
Nice to see that life can still be entertaining (and distracts us from our phones) like this drummer asking people to play with him.

While these scenarios are scary (otherwise how would Hollywood make more movies??), more insightful thinkers like Clive Thompson makes the argument that it’s still possible, even necessary, to blend humans and machines together to actually evolve and help society. This doesn’t mean turning everyone into cyborgs, but really looking at how we can use the best of both worlds. In the early chapters of Thompson’s book ‘Smarter Than You Think’, he provides examples of how chess grand masters worked with computers to not only improve the speed, but also creativity of play. I’ve just started the book, so definitely more insights to come.

My favorite quote so far:

“At their best, today’s digital tools help us see more, retain more, communicate more. At their worst, they leave us prey to the manipulation of the toolmakers. But on balance, I’d argue, what is happening is deeply positive. This book is about the transformation.”

Update: Thx Mr. Thompson!

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